Metrics for Analyzing Appropriateness and Change in Urban Landscape Water Use

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18th International Symposium for Society & Resource Management, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

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The authors present an overview of their interdisciplinary research related to urban landscape water use. Projects they have conducted include observational studies seeking to explain urban landscape water use patterns, intervention studies consisting of experiments aimed at altering landscape water use and assessing the effectiveness of various conservation approaches, and scientific inquiries related to understanding the human components of urban ecological systems and urban engineered water systems. Through these various projects, the authors have developed an approach for analyzing appropriateness and change in urban landscape water use that integrates multi-spectral remotely-sensed imagery of urban vegetation, municipal water billing data, and information on urban residents and residences. They address various assumptions behind calculations of landscape water use and present different ways they have characterized its appropriateness. This talk focuses on the data sources, metrics, tools, and software application the researchers have developed. In particular, they discuss how to balance considerations related to the utility of this approach as a research tool, a management tool, and a public information tool. As a research tool, the approach needs to integrate advances in each of the contributing interdisciplinary fields which can add complexity and detail to the analysis but hold promise for contributing to urban ecosystem analyses. As a management tool, the approach needs to help water managers and urban planners design, tailor and target water conservation policies and programs to locations with the greatest capacity to conserve and monitor use on a city-wide basis over time. As a public information tool, the approach needs to reflect analytic results to water users in ways that help them interpret and monitor their own landscape water use. The authors discuss various opportunities and challenges for utilizing their approach. Their research program is intended to serve basic interdisciplinary research needs of the water science community while simultaneously aiding urban water utilities and communities with applications that can make them more resilient and sustainable in the face of water resource scarcity and variability.

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